The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is slated to vote today on two bills that would authorize federal funding for water infrastructure and airports - including bond-related funds - and to outline how the fiscal 2010 budget summary released by the White House last week would affect infrastructure.
The water bill would authorize $13.8 billion in federal grants over five years to capitalize clean water state revolving funds, and would allow states to make negative-interest loans and offer loan principle forgiveness - in effect, grants - to localities. The funds also could be used by states to provide low-interest loans for water projects.
The $13.8 billion in grants would be in addition to the $4 billion provided for clean water SRFs in the stimulus act, and could mirror in annual outlays the amount of funding requested by President Obama in his fiscal 2010 budget request. Obama asked for $3.9 billion in funding for both clean and drinking water SRFs for the next fiscal year in the budget summary released last week.
Funding provided by the multi-year bill to be voted on today would be equivalent to one-sixth of all federal funding provided for wastewater infrastructure since 1972, but equivalent to only about 8% of the money spent by state and local sources during the same time period.
The measure, which is a conglomeration of stand-alone bills that died in Congress in recent years, also would reauthorize about $2 billion over five years for other water infrastructure priorities, such as grants to municipalities and states to control sewer overflows and funds for Great Lakes cleanup.
The legislation would require recipients to pay local prevailing wages and to buy American-produced construction products when possible.
The water resources and environment subcommittee quickly approved the bill by a voice vote yesterday, despite complaints about the prevailing wage rule from Arkansas Rep. John Boozman, the panel's ranking Republican. But the measure may face resistance as it moves through Congress. Similar bills stalled in the Senate in 2007 after being approved by the House.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also is scheduled to vote on a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that has been held up by Republican opposition since September 2007.
The bill would authorize $70 billion for the FAA's capital programs between fiscal 2009 and 2012. The airport improvement program - whose grants are sometimes used by issuers to back tax-exempt bonds - would be authorized to receive $16.2 billion.
In addition, the bill would raise the cap on passenger facilities charges - whose revenue is used more often by larger airports to repay bonds - to $7 from $4.50. The PFC increase would generate about $1.1 billion in additional revenue for airports each year, according to the committee.